Bruce Boudreau on the Caps' season and elimination

Bruce Boudreau
Washington Capitals Coach
Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 10:00 AM

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was online Tuesday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m. ET to talk about the Caps' 2009-2010 season and their elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A transcript follows.


Bruce Boudreau: Hello everyone. Thanks for joining me. I am looking forward to your questions. Let's get started.


Mike DC: Who are you pulling for in game 7, Montreal or Pittsburgh?

Bruce Boudreau: I am pulling for Montreal. I could never see myself wanting Pittsburgh to win and Montreal is playing inspired hockey. I can see them winning. I do think whoever scores the first goal will win.


Tysons: Favorite restaurant around Verizon Center?

Bruce Boudreau: This is an easy one. Capital Grille.


Tysons Corner, Va.: We saw Nicklas Backstrom emerge as a real goal-scoring threat over the latter part of the year. Talk about his play this season and what you would like to see from him next year.

Bruce Boudreau: Nick did everything he could this year. He has never missed a game in his NHL career (touch wood) and gaining more experience and getting older will make him a better player next year.


Washington, D.C.: Yesterday I bet a free lunch for the four rabid Caps fans in our office if together they could name the teams still in the playoffs -- without Internet or other assistance. They couldn't do it, so they had to buy me lunch. What do you think of that?

Bruce Boudreau: Sounds like they are loyal Caps fans! They love our team and nobody else and like myself they probably have not been able to watch hockey since we lost - so they would not know.


Washington, D.C.: Is the regular season just an 82-game "exhibition" because I don't see the point of home ice advantage in the playoffs.

Bruce Boudreau: I think this year in an anomaly. I certainly would want home-ice advantage every year. But this year really shows the actual parity in the league.


Hanover, N.H.: Bruce,

It is hard to tell on TV. What does Craig Ramsey have his guys doing that makes the Bruins PK so effective? Is it more just personnel than approach?

Bruce Boudreau: I just read that Philly had a power-play goal last night, so it did not work all that well yesterday. There are no secrets at this point in the season. Every team knows what the other team is going to do and every team is trying to accomplish the same thing. It is the personnel that makes the difference.


Arlington VA: Do you think Barry Melrose is trying too hard to be like Don Cherry? Have you seen his outfits lately?

Bruce Boudreau: Barry is a good friend of mine and he is just being himself.


John, Laurel MD: We have an adult league game tomorrow night and are looking for a guest coach... think you can help? :-)

Thanks for a great season coach.

Bruce Boudreau: Unfortunate timing to say the least - I will be in Hershey watching the Bears. I will see if Dean or Bob is available. Hahaha.


Annapolis, MD: Do you feel you under utilized the advantage of winning the presidents trophy by not matching lines. Will you reconsider your thoughts of not matching up lines?

Bruce Boudreau: It is a long convoluted answer. The difference is that we had three offensive lines, so it is tough to match lines against teams that do not. You have to play the players you have. If we match lines with our checkers against the other team's best lines then that would mean that the Backstrom and Laich lines would be on the bench a lot more than we would want them to be.


Baltimore, Md: Do you anticipate Karl Alzner and John Carlson being brought up to the Caps full time starting next season?

As a season ticket holder, thanks for a great season!

Bruce Boudreau: We anticipate both Karl and John to be here at the start of the season. John was great for the entire playoffs and Karl was great in Game 7.


Washington, DC: Hi Coach, thanks for a great season. What were your thoughts when you heard that Brooks Laich had helped fans change a tire after Game 7? Brooks Laich changes a tire after Game 7

Bruce Boudreau: This did not surprise me at all. That is the kind of person that he is.


Washington, D.C.: How hard was it to scratch Steckel?

Bruce Boudreau: It was difficult, but Gordon went in and did a tremendous job. He had a SHG and set up another one. It was a tough decision, but we had to look at who we were playing and what we thought was the best lineup against that team.


The Line Carousel: Hey, Coach. Thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A with us fans.

One thing that confounded fans this year is how quickly and how often you would switch up the personnel on the lines, especially since injuries weren't as big a factor this year as compared to last year. Could you explain why you tinker with your lines so much?

Bruce Boudreau: We had a lot of players at the end of the year and we wanted to keep everyone involved. That is a reason we moved lines around a lot. We always kept the first line together unless they were not playing well at the time. Once we got Belanger here, we were trying to find the best chemistry - was it with Semin? Was it with Fehr? We also wanted to try to find the best fit for Walker. It was difficult. In a perfect world we would like all the lines to fit perfectly, but we had to try different combinations more than I would have liked.


Manassas, VA: Now that the seasons has ended, what are your Summer/vacation plans?

Bruce Boudreau: I do not have any vacation plans. It is back to work. I will be following Hershey throughout the playoffs and running my hockey school and golf tournament. I will also be running the July development camp and then back to work full time.


Bethesda, MD: FREE ERIC FEHR! He deserves more minutes!

Bruce Boudreau: Who should get less minutes - Knuble or Semin?


Culpeper, VA: Which Hershey Bears young guys would you say have the strongest chance of earning a spot on the Caps roster in the 2010-2011 season?

p.s. You're adorable.

Bruce Boudreau: I really like Carlson and Alzner. Perreault has a real good chance, as do Beagle, Andrew Gordon and Pinizzotto. Michal Neuvirth as well. They are all having great seasons and are banging at the door.


Falls Church VA: Hi Bruce, Thanks a lot for taking our questions when I'm sure you'd rather put the past behind you and start thinking ahead to next season. My husband likes to say "In Gabby we Trust" and for the most part I do too...except for one decision.... After everything Jose did during the regular season, why did he not get one last start in Game 6 or 7? I really thought he deserved one last shot at making a difference for the team and felt that he could've played as well as or better than Varly. I know that Varly is the future, but Jose was the "present" for most of the season.

Regardless of your answer...thanks for being so down-to- earth, accessible and "gabby".

We're already missing our hockey team and can't wait for the new season to start....Go Caps and GOOD LUCK next season!

Bruce Boudreau: We were really seriously considering playing Jose in Game 7. Varly had never lost in Montreal, so that was an easy decision. If we had advanced, the plan was to start Jose against Philly. Hindsight is always 20-20 though. We did not think Varly was the reason we lost Game 7. It was a 2-1 game.


Alexandria VA: Coach, did you teach Mike Cammalleri how to put that fade away backhander just inside the far post like he did on his second goal last night?

Bruce Boudreau: Mike is very talented and everything he is touching right now is going in. I would like to take credit for that move, but that is all him.


Arlington, VA: Bruce...

about how many hours per week of your offseason are focused on hockey in some form? Are there any players, in particular, that you are excited about getting a look at during the dev. camp?


Bruce Boudreau: I do something with hockey every day. For development camp, I am excited to see Marcus Johansson, who we took in the first round last year.


Oakville, ON: Hi Coach Boudreau;

Thank-you for spending time with us, the fans.

In your opinion, how far along is Anton Gustafsson to challenging for a position with the Capitals? What about Chris Bourque - even as the thirteenth forward?

Finally, just wanted to say that I think your coaching style is -exactly- what this franchise has needed for a long while. I believe in you, Sir. Best wishes and to a restful summer. Sincerely, Luke

Bruce Boudreau: We are looking for Gus to play a full year in Hershey next year, but you never know. He could come into training camp next year and make our team. He has a lot of talent. Bourque is a great player and I have no problem with him being on our team at any point or time.


Alexandria, VA: Coach, many folks have said you gave Flash & Green too much rope in the playoffs (we are all couch coaches after all), given that hindsight is 20-20 and you had a do-over would you keep them on a shorter leash and perhaps bench them for game 5 in favor of Walker/Erskine or.......just to change the chemistry a little?

Bruce Boudreau: I would not take Mike Green out of the lineup. We won Games 2, 3 and 4, so there was no need to make any changes for Game 5.


Centreville, VA: Will the Caps be revamping their PK during the off-season? The PK system doesn't seem to play to the strengths of our personel.

Bruce Boudreau: We are always trying to tweak things to make it better and we will continue to do that next season as well.


C'ville, Va.: Coach:

I'm a huge fan of yours, and a lifelong fan of the team. Damn, that hurt! How much, in hindsight, do you think we were victims of waiting for our regular season game to work in this year's playoffs? It's tempting to say a hot goaltender got us, especially in view of our territorial dominance, but scoring only one goal in three straight games has to be more than just a fluke. Likewise with a power play operating at less than 3%. To what extent does playing a team up to 7 times in a row require specific adjustments? Looking back, are there any specific things you wish you had tried or changed to get things going more against the Habs?

Bruce Boudreau: We had 140 shots on goal in the last three games against Montreal. Our players tried as hard as they could. Montreal scored eight goals in the last three games. One was an ENG, two were PPGs and we limited them to the fewest scoring chances and shots in any three-game segment that we had all year. At the same time, we averaged 45 shots on goal. Our power play went cold for the first time in the three years. We made adjustments for it every game. We just could not score. We attempted 100 shots in Game 7 - that is unprecedented. It just wasn't meant to be.


Washington, DC: Will you reconsider sequestering the players in a hotel during the playoffs next year when they are in DC? It seems like some of the players were seen out partying this year and it might be a wise decision if we are lucky enough to make it that far next year.

Bruce Boudreau: We thought about having players stay in a hotel in DC and will think about it again next year. I do not think our guys were out partying. They took the series very seriously.


Game 6: Coach,

I think the key game in the series is one that people do not talk about much in the papers and the media: GAME 6.

I went back and rewatched it and (as objectively as possible) think that your team completely and utter dominated the game in every facet except score.

In your years of coaching and playing, have you ever seen a team dominate another team in such a fashion and lose?

Bruce Boudreau: Game 6 might have been our best game of the year. We deflected two pucks in our own net and they had an ENG. I do not know if I have ever seen a team with more scoring chances being limited to one goal. It may have been as good as a goalie can play.


Buffalo, NY: Hey coach,

In regard to your previous answer, isn't Fehr skilled enough to at least match Knuble's production? You could put Poti on a line with Ovechkin and Backstrom and get a 20 goal scorer hahaha.

Bruce Boudreau: We have tried Fehr in that position. The chemistry was not right. Don't forget that Kozlov played there last year and scored only 13 goals. It takes a special kind of player to player with two superstars and Knuble fits.


Neuvirth: Hi Bruce,

My wife loves Michal Neuvirth. Is there a reasonable chance that he'll be given a fair shake to compete with Varly next season if he performs well in camp? He seems to have a LOT of upside, but obviously does not garner nearly as much attention as our other gumby-like young goaltender. I hope he doesn't simply become trade bait.

Bruce Boudreau: We think Michal is going to be a great NHL player and he will be given the chance to compete and make our team next year.


Washington, DC: Coach, Mike Green recently suggested that the team's protracted commute home after game 4 played a role in the team coming out flat at the start of game 5. Do you agree? And in general, what impact do extraordinary travel delays have on a club in a series with little time off between games?

Bruce Boudreau: I think the fog flight had a profound effect on us. The players missed an entire night of sleep and got out of their routine. We missed practice the following day and it showed in the first 10 minutes of Game 5, when Montreal scored both their goals.


Takoma Park, MD: I know Ovie puts his heart into every game. At the same time, he rarely seems to practice with the team. Shouldn't a team captain be present at every practice (whether he participates fully or not), particularly right before a Game 7? Just seems to me what a "C" needs to do at that time of year.

Bruce Boudreau: Ovi always practiced when he was fully healthy. There were many times when he had some nagging injuries where it was best that he did not practice.


Harrisburg, PA: Any predictions on the Hershey/Manchester series? Great matchup of the Bears #1 offense vs. Bernier. PP goals could be the key.

Bruce Boudreau: Bears in five.


Bethesda, MD.: Some coaches are strict and demanding; others believe in keeping the team loose and are not as strict. What is your coaching philosophy?

Bruce Boudreau: I think somewhere in the middle.


The Blue Paint, Verizon Center: Bruce, do you ever get a chance to talk to the referees "off the record" about calls that were made during the game after they have had a chance to look at the play on video? Not that it would change anything, but at least they can explain what they saw or why they called a play the way they did - or maybe even say "Hey, I missed that one".. or "You guys got away with one there"

Bruce Boudreau: There was one time against Philly two years ago in the playoffs where I was able to show video to a referee after the fact and he agreed he made the wrong call.


Washington DC: Coach Boudreau,

First I wanted to thank you for another strong season, disappointing ending but hopefully it can build character for next year. I wanted to know if you ever got an official explanation about the disallowed goal in game 7. When you compare it to game 7 against the Flyers and than the goal the other night in the Vancouver Chicago series, it seems like consistency in the NHL is really taking a hit. I don't want to use it as an excuse but do you ever get apologies from the league on certain calls because sometimes I feel like they are all over the place.

Bruce Boudreau: I never got an explanation on Ovi's disallowed goal in Game 7 - not even on the ice.


Alexandria, VA: Was the loss in game 7 the worst, most disappointing loss of your life in hockey? If not, what was?

Bruce Boudreau: I think it has to be. I have lost Game 7s before, but none hurt as much as this one.


Bruce Boudreau: Thanks for participating everyone. I enjoyed your questions and hopefully we can do this again next year - a little later on in the year.


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